Escudero accepts offer to run with Grace

SENATOR Francis Escudero  on Thursday  accepted the offer of Senator Grace Poe to run as her vice presidential running mate for the 2016 polls.

“I am Chiz Escudero, a Filipino, a son, husband, father, and a Bicolano public servant. With the grace of God and the Blessed Mother, I humbly offer myself to the mission of serving as your vice president … as the vice president of our country,” Escudero told a crowd of supporters at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

Declaration. Senator Francis Escudero and his wife Heart Evangelista beam after Escudero declared his candidacy for vice president at Club Filipino in Greenhills. Lino Santos

“I believe that, as president, Senator Grace Poe or GP will lead a GP—Gobyernong may Puso or a government with heart,” said Escudero.

Escudero said a government with a heart would be focusing on the needs of the poor, removing corruption and finding ways to cut the cost of basic goods and services and lowering taxes.

“A government with heart will ensure our country progresses without leaving anyone behind,” said Escudero.

“Senator Grace and I will establish a government with heart through a detailed platform for each agency, which will be based on their yearly budget,” Escudero said.

He said there would be no room for the lazy or the slow in their government, which would move on their first day in office to address the country’s most pressing problems.

Like Poe the day before, Escudero promised to push for the passage of a Freedom of Information bill to make government transparent.

This was the same campaign promise that President Benigno Aquino III made in 2010, when he was running for President.

Escudero also talked about a politically inclusive process that would not focus only on one party.

“As we devote ourselves to the higher calling of serving our country as President and vice president, this is the reason we will choose to remain independent, or without a party. We believe that whoever runs and serves as President or vice president should not be member of a single party. Our party should be the Filipino people. And we should be loyal not only to Liberals, Nacionalistas, or other party members, but to every Filipino.”

The leader of the youth group Anakbayan said Poe’s presidential bid was a welcome development, particularly for those who have been neglected and abused under a corrupt and inept government under President Benigno Aquino III.

“It is good that she articulated a platform which focuses on the need for true reforms, which will benefit the nation especially the poor and vulnerable,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairman.

“We take note of her promise to hold the corrupt accountable be they friend or foe,” he added.

He also welcomed Poe’s statement to push for fair wages and benefits for workers.

“We hope that this means a significant wage increase and an end to contractualization,” Crisostomo said.

At Club Filipino, Escudero was introduced by Poe to the crowd chanting their names, less than 24 hours after she declared her presidential bid at the Bahay ng Alumni at UP Diliman, Quezon City.

Despite Poe and Escudero’s decision to run as independents, the second largest political party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, is expected to support their candidacy.

“While they do not have political machinery as big or as powerful as the other candidates, we will rely on the support of the Filipino people,” Escudero said.

On Twitter, #POE2016 became one of the top trending topics within minutes of Poe’s announcement  Wednesday.

In accepting Poe’s challenge to run as her running mate, Escudero said no single person or family has a monopoly over the talent, intelligence, skill, and good intentions for our country.

“This is why I decided to accept, with wholehearted will and humility, Senator Grace’s challenge to accompany her on her journey and to run as his vice president,” he said.

Escudero said he agreed to run with Poe because she believes in her character and ability.

Like her father, the late Fernando Poe Jr., Escudero said Poe’s heart was in the right place.

In endorsing Escudero  Thursday, Poe said she picked him to be her vice president not only because of friendship, but because he could be trusted and had done something to benefit the country.

Among those who attended the occasion were Escudero’s wife, Heart Evangelista-Escudero, Poe’s mother, veteran actress Susan Roces; actress Lovi Poe; and Senator Escudero’s mother, Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero.

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